Bracketology (The Hard Way) 2015

“Bracketology” (the “science” of predicting the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament) has become a big business on the web. There are loads of free sites offering opinions on which teams will get into the tournament, what their seeds will be, and in which regions they will be placed. There are also boodles of pay sites out there, where you can give your hard-earned cash to other “experts” who will handicap the field for you.

I’m not sure what the benefit of this approach might be, since (to the best of my knowledge) there’s not a big gambling pool out there before Selection Sunday. But someone must be buying (for reasons mysterious), because if they weren’t, then these dudes (and they are all dudes) would not be selling. Go figure.

When they market their services, most of the free and paid sites will offer stats like “Picked 67 of 68 teams last year!” The thing is, though, that they base those claims on their final set of picks, made in the hour between the end of the last conference tournament and the announcement of the first pairing in the big tournament. At this point, they know 31 of the 68 teams, since conference winners get automatic bids. They also know who stepped up in post-season play, and who flaked out — and this is of particular importance for the smaller conferences who do not get at-large bids.

This seems, to me, like easy pickings. And being a masochist, I prefer to do things the hard way, by publicly making my predictions of the field before any of the conference tournaments get going. That happens tomorrow, so I offer my annual picks for the 68 teams in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament below, sorted by conference (with number of teams in each conference in parentheses).

I will update the list as teams earn automatic byes, or get knocked out, and then do a final tally on Selection Sunday. I doubt I will get 67 of 68, but what’s the fun in picking automatic bids after the fact? Note that once the field is set, I will also host my annual pick ’em tourney (though I need to find a new home for it, since I’m boycotting Yahoo), so you can watch me over-think that phase of the process too.

America East (1): Albany
American (4): Tulsa, Southern Methodist, Temple, Cincinnati
Atlantic 10 (4): Dayton, Davidson, Rhode Island, Virginia Commonwealth
ACC (6): Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast North Florida
Big 12 (6): Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas
Big East (6): Villanova, Butler, Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s, Xavier
Big Sky (1): Eastern Washington
Big South (1): Coastal Carolina
Big Ten (6): Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Purdue
Big West (1): University of California-Davis University of California Irvine
Colonial (1): William and Mary Northeastern
Conference USA (1): Louisiana Tech Alabama-Birmingham
Horizon (1): Valparaiso
Ivy (1): Harvard
Metro Atlantic (1): Iona Manhattan
Mid-American (1): Central Michigan Buffalo
Mideastern Athletic (1): North Carolina Central Hampton
Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa
Mountain West (3): Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming
Northeast (1): St. Francis (New York) Robert Morris
Ohio Valley (1): Murray State Belmont
Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Utah, Oregon, UCLA
Patriot (1): Bucknell Lafayette
Southeastern (5): Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana State
Southern (1): Chattanooga Wofford
Southland (1): Stephen F. Austin
Southwestern Athletic (1): Texas Southern
Summit (1): South Dakota State, North Dakota State
Sun Belt (1): Georgia State
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Brigham Young
Western Athletic (1): New Mexico State

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